She falls in love with Vijay in director A. L. Vijay's just released Thalaivaa, though it’s one-sided. But for Mumbai-based actor Ragini Nandwani, it is a role of a lifetime. “I play a north Indian who doesn't know Tamil. When Vijay comes to Mumbai, circumstances bring us together and I fall head over heels in love with him. But, as we all know, his love interest in Thalaivaa is Amala Paul. For me, after the lukewarm response to my debut film Dehraadun Diary, this is a major breakthrough and although the release is delayed, I am already having over 14,000 followers on my FB page,” says Ragini whose entry into the film industry was through the Zee TV serial Mrs. Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein. “I have been getting some good Hindi and Tamil offers of late and will have to scrutinise them properly before signing on the dotted line.”

Engineer turns filmmaker

So what’s an aerospace engineer who aspired to be a Senator in Maryland, U.S., doing in Tamil films? In 2006, Jay Bala stood for Maryland State Senate elections from District 28, but lost. Originally from Sri Lanka, Jay Bala married a girl from Madurai and migrated to the U.S. in the 1980s, where he hobnobbed with leaders in the IT industry. Now he has made a movie in Tamil employing Hollywood techniques. Wondering how? He has familiarised himself with the filmmaking techniques in almost every sphere — cinematography, screenplay and direction. “When I came up with the story for Suvadugal, I knew that I could fit into the role of the protagonist. I knew it was going to be difficult because I was also directing and filming. In most of the instances, I would automate the camera, instruct the trolley operators to carry out the movements and enact my role. Consequently, I was able to employ techniques that enabled me to incorporate several elements into a single sweeping shot, reducing a 20-minute sequence to 3 minutes. As for the music, I sought the services of M. S. Viswanathan whose compositions are dynamic, full-bodied orchestral sounds with a contemporary feel. I have recorded all the songs by bringing in a leading Hollywood recording engineer, Tim de Paravicini of EAR-Yoshino Ltd, U.K. The mixing and mastering of the songs were done at his studio,” says Bala.

Tale with twists

Unnodu Oru Naal will be the second outing for Gibran, after Bale Pandiya. Gibran plays Madhav with whom the heroine Priya falls in love. She then ditches him and hooks up with his friend Karthik. A heartbroken Madhav decides to leave for foreign shores to forget Priya. And, Karthik marries Priya. Unnodu Oru Naal is a short and sweet story with a happy and sad ending. But do our filmmakers leave it at that? “No!” says Gibran, “but you will have to wait and see the twists in the tale. I have enjoyed playing the role tremendously. Meanwhile, in S. J. Suryah's Isai, I play an illusionist who comes to haunt him. I took on this role so I could learn a lot from Suryah. He is such a committed artiste whose energy and professionalism rubs off on you.”